Advaita Vedanta has a reputation for being very cerebral. It’s a path of study, thinking, debating, talking, and learning. In very general terms it seems that if you want the path of study, you become an Advaitan. If you want the path of devotion you become a Vaishnava. If you want action you become a Shivite. If you want mysticism you become a Shakti. But as I’ve said before, there is a balance of all these different elements and it’s a very rare person who can be fully one and not any of the others. I think it’s healthier when we balance study, devotion, action, and mysticism together.
My guru is an Advaitan but he told us something very interesting on this trip. He said “Bhakti (devotion) is the foundation.” The other parts of spiritual practice build on that. For some of us highly intellectual people, it can be very challenging to relinquish control enough to do the praise and devotion thing for God.I wanted to learn more about bhakti from the Advaitan perspective, so I bought a little book at the maat bookstore that was gathered lectured His Holiness had given on the topic of bhakti.
The great thing about bhakti is that it is a form of worship that is truely available for everyone. You don’t need years of study or a good education or resources. Anyone and everyone can practice bhakti right where they are today. For many people it is the first type of worship they experience and over time they may develop interest in more forms of worship or they may not. Bhakti can take you the whole way.
I could benefit from a little more bhakti in my life, I think. I have a tendency to try to take on everything and do it all myself. I think surrendering that control would be healthy.